Sunday, 24 June 2012

“Intranet 2.0 Based Knowledge Production”

Doris Riedl and Fritz Betz (2012). “Intranet 2.0 Based Knowledge Production”. In: eKNOW 2012, The Fourth International Conference on Information, Process, and Knowledge Management. Valencia, Spain: International Academy, Research and Industry Association (IARIA), pp. 1–6.
url: http://www.thinkmind.org/index.php?view=article&articleid=eknow_20 12_1_10_60020

Abstract

The evolution of static intranets to dynamic web 2.0 based information systems is one way to provide space for the collaborative production of knowledge within an enterprise. Despite the fact that social software is now commonly provided for intra-company usage, this usage is below expectations in many cases. This paper, based on an exploratory case study in an international bank, shows the drawbacks as well as the drivers for the participative generation of knowledge using web 2.0 tools within an intranet. The findings, against the background of recent technology-oriented research, are three groups of possible barriers which are intertwined and therefore influence each other, namely organisational, cultural and technological barriers. Above all, the results of the case study suggest it is less meaningful to discuss if and how social software may or may not change organisations but to interpret the findings in a social science-based framework by taking the work of Boltanski & Chiapello and their understanding of the new forms of work organisation into consideration. This interpretation, while preliminary, suggests that employees using Web 2.0 software for knowledge production struggle with the ambiguity between the demands of these new forms of work and the existing, traditional organisational structures.

Review

Riedl and Betz, 2012: “Intranet 2.0 Based Knowledge Production” is an excellent paper on barriers commonly observed in Enterprise 2.0 implementation projects. The authors did only one case study, but their findings sound reasonable and also are in line with other research on the topic.

They start off by stating that many Enterprise 2.0 projects seem to fall short in usage and do not meet the expectations. The interesting turn in their paper is that they mainly focus on cultural and organisational barriers, and not so much on technology. It is also the only paper I read recently that refers to SLATES (Search, Links, Authorship, Tags, Extensons, Signal - see McAfee, 2006: “Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration”) and FLATNESSES (Freeform, Links, Authorship, Tagging, Network-oriented, Extensions, Search, Social, Emergence, Signals - see Hinchcliffe, 2007: "The state of Enterprise 2.0"). With Boltanski and Chiapello, 2005: “The New Spirit of Capitalism” they argue that “a new network-based form of organisation came into existence” and continue that this “new form of work organisation is founded on employee initiative and work autonomy”. They explain that this new approach to work “means self-fulfillment as a strategy to mobilise labour”. I think this is an interesting point, that deservers further research. Just not here and now.

Following this general section, they briefly explain how they conducted their exploratory case study before they present their findings. They found three main categories of barriers: the organisational culture, the organisation itself, and the technology. They also map these categories to three layers of another theoretical model, developed by Pan and Scarborough in Pan and Scarborough, 1999: “Knowledge Management in Practice: An Exploratory Case Study”: infrastructure, infostructure, infoculture. The most important barrier identified by Riedl and Betz is the “lack of alignment of the intranet 2.0 applications to the business process requirements”.

I think that this is a crucial point, and also one that shows the chances of modern collaboration tools. It was probably never easier and quicker to access knowledge sharing and knowledge management tools than today. But it is important to integrate these tools naturally in everyday processes, and not treat them as additional and isolated systems. Social business tools, as Enterprise 2.0 tools are sometimes called today, need to become an integrated part of operational business processes. This is perhaps one of the biggest challenges companies face today, and one that cannot be addressed by implementing a new system, but one that requires fundamental changes in the way business processes are designed and specified.

Riedl and Betz conclude by stating that “how the discrepancy between traditional ‘tayloristic’ organisations and the expected participation of the employees in the ‘Enterprise 2.0’ may be bridged” needs to be studied in more detail. They are right, even more as understanding this is important to create business processes that integrate knowledge tools seamlessly, increasing employee productivity rather than reducing it by adding another system they need to take care of.

References

Riedl and Betz, 2012: “Intranet 2.0 Based Knowledge Production”
Riedl, Doris and Fritz Betz (2012). “Intranet 2.0 Based Knowledge Production”. In: eKNOW 2012, The Fourth International Conference on Information, Process, and Knowledge Management. Valencia, Spain: International Academy, Research and Industry Association (IARIA), pp. 1–6.
url: http://www.thinkmind.org/index.php?view=article&articleid=eknow_2012_1_10_60020.
McAfee, 2006: “Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration”
McAfee, Andrew (2006). “Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration”. In: MIT Sloan Management Review 47.3, pp. 21–28. url: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/the-magazine/2006-spring/47306/enterprise-the-dawn-of-emergent-collaboration/.
Hinchcliffe, 2007: "The state of Enterprise 2.0"
Hinchcliffe, Dion (2007). The state of Enterprise 2.0.
url: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hinchcliffe/the-state-of-enterprise-20/143 (visited on 06/10/2012).
Boltanski and Chiapello, 2005: “The New Spirit of Capitalism”
Boltanski, L. and E. Chiapello (2005). “The New Spirit of Capitalism”. In: International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 18.3, pp. 161–188.
url: http://www.springerlink.com/content/n3w3742162608651/.
Pan and Scarborough, 1999: “Knowledge Management in Practice: An Exploratory Case Study”
Pan, Shan L. and Harry Scarborough (1999). “Knowledge Management in Practice: An Exploratory Case Study”. In: Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 11.3, pp. 359– 374. url: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/095373299107401.

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